Actually, despite my progressed age, I'm still a sucker for children's films and you will find there are actually quite a few new ones coming out regularly if you take a closer look. That's why I was curious about the newest entry to the genre from Finland: Ella ja kaverit (Ella and Friends/Ella and the Great Race). Unfortunately I have to say that it was really one of the weaker films I saw in the last months. Maybe it was the whole car aspect that I'm not too big a fan of or the ridiculous drooling over the formula 1 boy. It's hard to put the finger on. Many children films these days show great depth, but this one here only has it all on the surface. The father who was the main antagonist was not too bad, but even this was also more of an occasionally entertaining caricature than a truly good performance.
For director Taneli Mustonen it's the very first movie (after short films and TV work) to be released in theaters and it seems like he got off to a bit of a rough start. Hopefully his second kids movie scheduled for 2015 is going to look better. Here and there there was a scene which made it a bit funny, like everything involving the dogs supposed to pull, but for the most part it was mainly forgettable. All the children characters were style over substance and nothing we haven't seen before: the muscular kid, the super-smart one... and same can be said about the teacher. Story development occasionally came completely out of nowhere such as the plan do tear down the house or the relationship between the other girl (who all of a sudden is a great driver too) and the antagonist.
Most of the time, I can enjoy movies made for kids thanks to their goofiness, quirkiness and humor, also many German ones based on books, but this one simply did not succeed for it was really over-the-top on too many occasions. Not recommended.
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